Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

When expertise becomes an enemy of quality service 16 – personnel policies as dynamic and at least ideally, coherently and consistently organized operational systems 4

Posted in career development, HR and personnel, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on December 17, 2016

This is my sixteenth installment to a series on expertise, and on what an employee or manager needs to bring along with it, if it is to offer real value and either to themselves or to the business they work for (see my supplemental postings section at the end of Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 69 and following, for Parts 1-15.)

I began a systematic analysis of openness and secrecy in individual and demographic level data about employee compensation, in Part 15, organizing that discussion around a specific real world example as drawn from my own professional experience. Then at the end of that installment and after briefly noting and listing online resources for finding up to date information on salary and overall compensation ranges in businesses and across industries, I stated that I would continue that narrative here, with a discussion of how this compels change in basic Human Resources personnel policy and expectations.

I begin addressing this with the matter of expectations – and with the Human Resources face of the overall corporate culture in place:

• Pre-internet certainly, and pre-social media and pre-interactive internet in particular, Human Resources personnel expected that they could effectively control access to essentially all personnel-related data and information, sharing what they and their managers saw as necessary for business employees and managers to know, and holding secret and confidential anything that they acquired and held that they saw as meriting that type of discretion.
• The interactive internet, and online social media in particular threw open the doors to whole new types of information disclosure and particularly for types and categories of information that Human Resources and their carefully enforced personnel policies had always kept walled off behind closed doors.
• Old expectations that had always seemed to work here, at least in general and in spite of information release exceptions of the type outlined in Part 15, suddenly became obsolete. And attempting to adhere to them became dysfunctional, and just as quickly.

I used the word transparency in Part 15, and my overall goal for this posting is to clarify what I mean by that:

• And how Personnel policy has to be able to accommodate both the open availability of once-confidential information,
• While still robustly meeting all personal privacy and related confidentiality requirements.

And with that stated, let’s consider policy and its operationalized implementations. And I begin that with a basic observation, and by pointing out a readily assumed misconception:

• Developing policy, and planning out how it is to be implemented and followed, begins with knowing precisely what critical information you and your organization have to hold secret and confidential, and what you can safely make public. And in this, you have to assume that there is and can be no half-way there. No one can be half pregnant; in a corresponding manner, no information that is selectively, partly released is going to stay that way. You have to understand that if you attempt to widen availability of some body of information beyond the scope of the circle of individuals who specifically need it for their work, and who have been vetted for their reliability in keeping it confidential for that – that in time everyone will know it.
• That is the basic observation, and this is the readily assumed misconception: there is a reason why I wrote what you “have to hold secret and confidential” rather than what you would want to hold secret and confidential. First of all, the later of those desired possibilities is going to include types of business intelligence that are already fully lost from control – your or anyone else’s. And I cite those salary and compensation ranges: planned for and adhered to, for specific work positions and levels as discussed in my Part 15 case study of this series. “Want to” is in all likelihood going to be too large, and too amorphously defined and mutable a goal for maintaining confidentiality, than is ever going to be possible to sustain. “Must” and with a clearly defined understanding of what does and does not have to belong in that category, and for how long and under what circumstances, is going to be challenging enough.

And this brings me to the concluding point for this installment that I will begin to build from in the next:

• Personnel policy: all personnel policy has to be framed and if need be reframed in terms of realistic information management policy and its operational follow through.

I am going to at least begin addressing this point and its implication in my next series installment, starting with hiring processes and policies, and the processes and policies in place for managing pay raises and promotions. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 (with this included as a supplemental posting there) and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.


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